Title: The Wrath and the Dawn (The Wrath and the Dawn #1)
Author: Renée Ahdieh
Genre: Young adult fantasy
Published: By G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers on May 12th, 2015
ISBN13: 9780399171611 (US Hardcover edition)
Grade: Exceeds expectations
Every dawn brings horror to a different family in a land ruled by a killer. Khalid, the eighteen-year-old Caliph of Khorasan, takes a new bride each night only to have her executed at sunrise. So it is a suspicious surprise when sixteen-year-old Shahrzad volunteers to marry Khalid. But she does so with a clever plan to stay alive and exact revenge on the Caliph for the murder of her best friend and countless other girls. Shazi’s wit and will, indeed, get her through to the dawn that no others have seen, but with a catch . . . she’s falling in love with the very boy who killed her dearest friend. She discovers that the murderous boy-king is not all that he seems and neither are the deaths of so many girls. Shazi is determined to uncover the reason for the murders and to break the cycle once and for all.
This series had long become popular before I decided to pick it up this year, so my expectations were quite high. Having already read and enjoyed Flame in the Mist, I was really looking forward to this one.
Shahrzad was a tough protagonist for me to root for because I couldn’t connect with her personality at all. However, by the end of the book, I couldn’t help but admire her for her strength, courage and fiery, stubborn nature. She was different from the usual kickass YA heroines, which I’m always happy to see more of. Khalid turned out to be a bigger challenge than Shazi and I had very lukewarm feelings towards him. The supporting characters were what made the story much more interesting, in my opinion. Their motivations and personalities were well fleshed out.
The plot felt a little drawn out to me and on the slower side of things with some unnecessary bits thrown in here and there. I had the same issue with Flame in the Mist as well where the story didn’t seem very cohesive. The one aspect I did like was that the conflict in the story was character-driven. On the other hand, I was utterly captivated by the world-building. I think this is where Ahdieh’s writing shone and the setting came alive through her beautiful prose, which I found to be the perfect amount of flowery. As I listened to the audiobook of this, I really liked how the narrator did the different voices as well as the natural flow in her narration. Despite that, I think I probably would’ve appreciated the story better if I’d physically read it. Overall, it was a good start to an intriguing new series and I’m very curious to see how the conflict will resolve itself in the next and final instalment.
I would highly recommend this to readers looking for a diverse retelling or refreshing new YA fantasy series. Ambient desert sounds or Arabian folk music would go very well in enhancing the setting of the book. There are several mentions of food in the book, so definitely have a platter of snacks at the ready, especially some fresh fruit or bread with hummus dip.
Have you read this series? If you have, I’m curious about how your thoughts on The Rose and the Dagger. Which is your favourite diverse fantasy series? Let me know in the comments section below.